Feb 9, 2024
In the evolving digital landscape, the gaming industry has emerged as a force in marketing strategies, beating out traditional advertising to captivate a global audience of over 3 billion gamers as of 2023, as per Newzoo. With the industry’s rise, the market value of gaming is estimated to reach $321 billion by 2026, according to a PwC report. This growth offers brand engagement opportunities, reaching diverse demographics, in-game collaborations, and esports sponsorships.
Brands that authentically navigate this ecosystem by integrating marketing messages without disrupting the gaming experience are finding success. As technology advances, particularly in VR and AR, the potential for creative and immersive marketing within gaming continues to expand.
Engaging with consumers
Gaming companies were the first to create a prototype of the metaverse, a digital landscape that has now grown into 3D worlds like Fortnite and Roblox. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of individuals will dedicate at least an hour daily to activities within the 3D internet, such as work, shopping, education, socializing, and entertainment. The metaverse presents a new avenue for marketers, offering ways to engage with consumers beyond the constraints of the current digital world.
Brands can utilize platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, and Decentraland to create unique and engaging experiences. In the metaverse, the lines between entertainment, social interaction, and advertising blur, enabling brands to integrate their messages, products, or services into the fabric of virtual experiences.
These immersive environments offer a space for consumers to engage, explore, participate in games, and execute purchases via their avatars, opening up a universe of interactive marketing possibilities.
Here are some ways the metaverse is used to engage with customers:
The metaverse is a gamified virtual gathering space where brands can host massive interactive live events, conferences, and other social gatherings. Brands can create customized virtual environments with the finest details, and users can attend as avatars to connect and interact with attendees. For instance, Landvault helped bring Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week to life. This virtual event brought together over 60 brands and 300,000 attendees to the platform, where they could participate in live fashion shows and visit brand stores.
Branded virtual spaces
Companies can create branded virtual spaces in the metaverse to immerse users in their brand story and narrative. Take Nike creating 'Nikeland' within Roblox as an example. This digital arena mirrors Nike's ethos of innovation and sport, allowing users to participate in games, try on virtual Nike gear, and experience the brand in a new dimension.
Sponsoring in-game content
Sponsoring in-game content allows brands to integrate their products or themes directly into games, offering unique experiences and rewards that engage players with the brand interactively and memorably. AB InBev sponsored a horse racing event on the Ethereum-based game Zed Run. During these events, attendees could meet friends and buy them a drink that would be delivered to their homes while also being able to purchase virtual merchandise that unlocked their corresponding physical products.
Gamification of marketing campaigns
Gamification is defined as the strategic application of game mechanics in non-gaming contexts to enhance conversion rates, customer engagement, motivation, and loyalty, making it a widely adopted strategy in digital marketing. This approach taps into the universal appeal of games by incorporating interactive quizzes, challenges, and rewards, making marketing campaigns accessible and enjoyable for a broad audience.
By incorporating game-like elements, gamification encourages competition and problem-solving, engaging customers in a fun and interactive manner. This strategy also attracts more attention to websites and products and significantly increases user involvement, brand awareness, and conversion rates. For instance, rewarding users with badges or levels upon completing tasks can motivate them to engage more with the game and the brand.
Here are some successful gamification marketing campaigns:
Pleasure Hunt by Magnum Ice Cream: In a creative twist on classic 2D Mario games, Magnum introduced "Pleasure Hunt," a smart online skills game in 2011, a game where players navigate as "Magnum Woman" to collect chocolates across various websites, including YouTube and Samsung. Upon completing the game, players could share their scores on social media. The campaign was a hit, attracting more than 23 million players and keeping them highly engaged.
Starbucks Rewards: Starbucks has integrated a gamification approach by tying real-life purchases to a rewards system, effectively boosting customer engagement and fostering loyalty. Members of the Starbucks Rewards program earn stars for every purchase, which can be exchanged for complimentary food or beverages. Accumulating more stars elevates members to gold status, unlocking even more prestigious rewards. This strategy effectively cultivates customer loyalty by rewarding them for their continued patronage. Starbucks has used gamification techniques to increase customer engagement, retention, and satisfaction. The company's Rewards program, launched in 2009, has 60 million members globally. The membership also accounted for 52% of all US store sales in 2021.
Creating branded gaming experiences
Games are inherently engaging experiences for the user as they build a sense of accomplishment and community. When a brand builds an engaging game, users remember the game and, as a result, the brand. The popularity of casual gaming is high, with Adjust’s Benchmarks Report stating that gaming is the biggest mobile vertical that makes up 25% of iOS and 21% of Android downloads. With a massive market and revenue opportunities, brands have the power to launch gaming experiences that promote their product and services in a non-intrusive way while building a community of consumers. These games can be created on any digital platform, from mobiles to the metaverse. Rather than disrupting user experience through ads, these games seamlessly enhance it by including in-game characters or objects that are often related to the brand or product.
The benefits of branded gaming experiences:
Enhanced engagement: Interactive gaming experiences are inherently engaging, encouraging users to spend more time with the brand in a leisurely and entertaining context rather than overtly promotional.
Increased recall: Immersive games create memorable experiences that increase brand recall. Players who interact with branded elements in a game are more likely to remember the brand positively.
Personalized interactions: Gaming allows customized experiences tailored to the audience's interests and behaviors, making the brand's message more relevant and impactful.
Community building: Multiplayer games and social features within games foster a sense of community among players, which can be centered around the brand, enhancing loyalty and advocacy.
Innovative brand placement: Beyond traditional advertising, brands can integrate into the game's narrative or mechanics in a way that adds value to the player's experience, making the brand an integral part of the entertainment.
Here are some examples of successful branded games and interactive experiences:
LUSH in Decentraland: LUSH's foray into the 3D gamified space of the metaverse was facilitated by Landvault, marking a significant step in blending retail with digital innovation. This initiative allowed users to explore a virtual space in Decentraland that was customized to echo the brand’s ethos, focusing on sustainability and community engagement. The activation included dance-offs and a virtual hunt for the brand’s signature Bath Bombs to earn exclusive LUSH wearables.
Nike's SNKRS App: Nike elevated sneaker shopping to an engaging adventure with its SNKRS app, blending AR scavenger hunts and exclusive sneaker drops into the experience. This gamification strategy turns purchasing into an interactive quest, deepening customer engagement and fostering a dedicated community of sneaker fans eager for the next digital challenge or exclusive release.
KFC Japan’s mobile game: KFC launched an application for a game called Shrimp Attack, where users were to swipe away at the restaurant’s classic battered shrimp. The game also allowed users to win vouchers to try the fast food chain’s newly launched fast food. According to Gamify, 22% of those who engaged with the game redeemed their vouchers, peaking demand.
Esports is transforming the marketing landscape, offering brands a dynamic platform to connect with new audiences. With an audience projected to hit 31.6 million in 2023 and advertising revenue expected to reach $264.3 million, the esports sector presents a prime opportunity for targeted engagement and brand visibility.
This digital arena mirrors traditional sports, featuring leagues, teams, and players, but stands out with its live streaming capabilities and social interactions, reaching a diverse, global audience. Platforms like Twitch are central to this ecosystem, with an estimated user base of 35.3 million in 2023, highlighting the vast reach of the platform’s gaming content. Some brands are taking advantage of these engaged communities and sponsoring esports teams and events to increase brand exposure.
Here are some examples of strategic brand and esports sponsorships:
Intel and Electronic Sports League (ESL): Intel's long-standing partnership with ESL, one of the largest esports organizations, showcases the power of aligning with esports events. Their collaboration on the Intel Extreme Masters has set a benchmark for successful brand integration into esports, enhancing Intel's reputation among gaming enthusiasts. The collaboration has sponsored live events globally in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
Coca-Cola and League of Legends: Coca-Cola collaborated with League of Legends developer Riot Games to create the new Coca‑Cola® Ultimate Zero Sugar with gamers for gamers. This partnership has leveraged the excitement of one of the biggest titles in esports to connect with fans worldwide.
Red Bull and VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT): The energy drink sponsored VCT in the EMEA region as an official partner of the league. The Red Bull-sponsored EMEA league recorded a viewership of 278,315 in its inaugural week, encapsulating the massive reach brands can achieve through esports collaborations.
Feb 9, 2024
LandVault is the largest metaverse builder with over 100 million square feet of virtual real estate, more than 120 full-time creators, and nearly 300 completed projects. We’ve been helping brands build and grow in gaming environments since 2017 and the metaverse since 2021.
LandVault’s platform-agnostic proprietary technology and creative powerhouse builds and delivers tailored, data-driven, and optimized business solutions and insights. We help clients launch, optimize, and monetize metaverse experiences.
LandVault’s mission is to accelerate the metaverse economy through technology with a vision of a fairer wealth distribution across the web.